Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04100) Population: 19,107 Altitude: 330 m
Manosque is a large, walled town in the Durance river plain, at the edge of the Luberon to the west and the Valensole plateau to the east. We generally find it busy, crowded and noisy after visiting the quiet little villages out in the hills, but quickly get caught up in the excitement of the place.
We've done short visits to Manosque several times over the years, staying overnight a few times. We find the town most interesting for its shopping, lodging and dining, making it a good base for visiting a wide area, from the Luberon to the Verdon.
The buildings in the old town lack the quaintness of the smaller towns and villages, with some exceptions such as our [photo-6]. The buildings are old, though, and while you're wandering the town streets you'll discover interesting old places and ancient doorways.
It's a market town on Saturday mornings, with the large Place du Terreau taken over by the main market. Wandering through the narrow town streets you'll run across other markets as well, like the food market on the Place [de la Mairie]. Perhaps inspired by Giono, this is a reader's town, and we found several outdoor bookstalls as well.
Historical highlights of Manosque are the two 14th-century fortified portes.
• The town's main entrance at the south is the Porte de la Saunerie [photo-2], built in 1382. Also called the Porte de sel (salt entrance), because the salt tax gabelle was paid here. The gabelle was a law that obliged every subject of the King to purchase a certain amount of salt every year, with a tax to the state monopoly. Widely different methods of taxation caused a vast black market. This very unpopular tax was abolished in 1790.
• At the northern end of town, the entrance is through the Porte du Soubeyran [photo-1], the highest tower in town. The base and the arch of the Soubeyran date from the 13th century. The clock tower was built in the 18th, and the campanile in 1830.
Mont d'Or, the hill where the Counts of Forqualqier once lived, is just over 1km from the center, northeast. About an hour round-trip offers you a nice view of the town and the surrounding countryside.
Manosque has a few "Favorite Sons", including Elémir BOURGES (1852-1925), author of fiction and the play "La Nef. The most favorite, though, is Jean GIONO (1895-1970).
Much of Giono's work paints a very descriptive picture of early 20th-century life in Provence, that we highly recommend, including: Coline, 1929 and Regain, 1930. Another favorite is Le Hussard sur le toit, 1951.
Giono's birthplace is just a block in from the main entrance Porte de la Saunerie, on the left side of Rue Grande at number 14, marked by a plaque. The Centre Jean Giono is on the ring-road, just to the west of the main entrance, a block north of the Office de Tourisme.
There are two very nice campanilles (wrought-iron belfries) in the town of Manosque. One is on the Saint-Aaveur church and the other on top of the Porte Soubeyran.
History of Manosque
First record, 978 Manoasca, from the Celtic evoking sources and river. The Office de Tourisme pamphlet states that the original name was Maneask, from the Celtic "man" for hill and the Ligurian "asq" for inhabitants.
The town was probably founded by the Celto-Ligurians around 300 BC, was occupied by the Romans, and destroyed in the late Middle Ages by the Saracens.
The town was liberated in 974 by Willian the 1st, Count of Forcalquier, who then stayed regularly in his chateau on the hilltop of Mont d'Or. Being the favorite residence of the Counts of Forcalquier, coproprietors with St-Victor of Marseille, Manosque regained importance from the 13th century.
In the 12th century Manosque was connected administratively to the Hospitaliers de St-Jean-de-Jerusalem, who retained control until the Revolution, 500 years later, and who continually opposed the communal liberties.
La Reine Jeanne (Queen Jane) called the town "Manosque-la-Fleurie. King François 1st (1515-1547) named it the "Pudique" (the chaste) because, according to legend, a young woman defigured herself rather than yielding herself to the King.
Manosque and its inhabitants have expressed their independence proudly over the centuries. In 1851, Mayor Joseph Buisson headed an armed insurrection against Louis Napoléon's coup d'état, marching on Digne-les-Bains and installing (briefly) a government.
Tel : 04 92 72 16 00; Fax: 04 92 72 58 98
The Office de Tourisme is located a block south of the main entrance of Porte de la Saunerie. It's on the west side of Ave Jean Giono, at the north end of the parking area of Place du Dr Joubet.
Market day: Sat.
Mar - Foire des Rameaux - in the old town and the circular boulevards
May - Fête de l'Olivier - Olive tree festival
May - Fête de la St Pancrace - Foire de Manosque
June - Journées Médiévales (every 2 years, even numbered years)
Aug - Festival International du Luberon
• GPS: 43.827415, 5.787654
IGN (1/25,000) #3342 OT "Manosque, Forcalquier"
Located at the edge of the Luberon, there is excellent hiking west and north of town. Of the many hiking trails in the Pélissier forest to the north, many follow small roads or forestry roads, and not all are signposted.
The GR4 hiking trail goes through Manosque. To the east, the GR4 crosses the canal by the hamlet of Moulin Neuf, then joins the main D907 road for 3 km, until after the river, where it goes into the forested hills towards Gréoux-les-Bains. To the west, the GR4 goes to Pierrevert (3.5 km), then northwest to Montfuron and further west across the Luberon.
The Plan d'Eau des Vannades, 4 km east of Manosque beside the Durance, has a sailing school, windsurfing and swimming.
There are two municipal piscines, one about 1 km north of the center and another 1 km south.
A couple of pony clubs are located a bit out of town.
CASINO. For gambling, not the grocery-store chain.
This is more than a museum, all about native son Jean Giono.
On the ring-road, bvd E. Bourges, just to the west of the Porte de la Saunerie
Located in the old Convent of the Presentaion, the Foundation Carzou has a huge fresco inspired by the Apocalypse de Saint Jean
Church - Eglise Notre Dame de Romigier
Destroyed around 900 by the Saracens and rebuild again in the 10 century.
Contains a paleo-Christian sarcophage and teh 11th-c Vierge Noire (Black Virgin)
Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)
This renaissance style hôtel particulier (town house) has been the Hotel de Ville since 1772.
Contains a bust of Gérard Tenque, Father founder of the Hospitalers, and a series of watercolors by Louis Denis Valvérane tracing the history of Manosque.
Guided tours of the old town are organized all year, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Details from the Office de Tourisme
Maison de la Biodiveersité
- Location: Chemin de la Thomassine
- Open: July-Sept: Wed-Sun; 10h30-17h00; 1-hr guided tours 11h-15h
Oct-June: Wed only
- Entry: 10 F
- Tel: 0492 877 440; Fax: 0492 877 440
- (Northwest of town center)
Verger conservatoire e 290 variétés fruitières traditionnelles; vegetable gardens; walking paths to discover Mediterranean forests; sundial (cadran solaire); fish basin
The town's railway station (gare SNCF) is about 1500 meters southeast of the center, just off the D907. Manosque is on the line Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Manosque, Sisteron, Gap, Embrun, Briançon, with several trains a day [Rail Provence].
Bus Marseille - Digne - Barcelonnette
- The Marseille - Digne-les-Bains - Barcelonnette bus route is: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Meyrargues, Peyrolles, Mirabeau, Corbières, Sainte Tulle, Manosque, Volx, Villeneuve, La Brillanne, Oraison, Les Pourcelles, Dabisse, Peyruis, Les Mées, Malijai, Mallemoisson, Aiglun, Digne-les-Bains, La Javie, Col de Maure, Seyne-les-Alpes, Montclar, Saint Vincent, Barcelonnette.
Trip time is 4 hrs (Marseille - Manosque 1h20; Manosque - Digne 1hr10; Digne - Barcelonnette 1h30).
The route and schedule is available on the SCAL-Autocars website (link just below).
- Web: www.scal-amv-voyages.com/ligne.htm
Department 04, Alpes-de-Haute Provence Buses
- See Beyond's Alpes-de-Haute Provence (04) Bus Schedules for downloading Alpes-de-Haute Provence bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
Digne, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille
- The schedule for the Digne-les-Bain, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille bus line is available via the Digne Office de Tourisme website. The route includes stops: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Meyrargues, Peyrolles, Mirabeau, Corbières, Sainte Tulle, Manosque, Volx, Villeneuve, La Brillanne, Oraison, Les Pourcelles, Dabisse, Les Mées, Malijai, Mallemoisson, Aiglun, Digne-les-Bains. Trip time is 2h10 (1hr Marseille - Manosque, and 1h10 Manosque - Digne-les-Bains).
- Web: www.ot-dignelesbains.fr/garedigne_busdigne-rubrique-26-FR-DIGNE_LES_BAINS.html
Manosque - Riez Bus
- The Riez - Manosque bus line has several buses a day; 50 minutes trip. Schedule available via the Riez town website (see Beyond's Riez page). Stops: Riez, Allemagne-en-Provence, St Martin-de-Brômes, Esparron-de-Verdon (intersection), Gréoux-les-Bains, Manosque (Gare SNCF, Gare routière).
Marseille - Gap - Briancon Bus
- The Marseille - Gap - Briancon bus route is: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Meyrargues, Peyrolles, Mirabeau, Corbières, Sainte Tulle, Manosque, Volx, Villeneuve, La Brillanne, Lurs, Peyruis, Saint Auban, Chateau-Arnoux, Volonne, Peipin, Les Bons Enfants, Sisteron, Le Poet, Rourebeau, Le Beynon, Valenty, Monetier-Allemont, Le Vivas, La Saulce, Tallard, Chateauvieux, La Tourronde, Gap; La Batie Neuve, Chorges, Savines, Embrun, Chateauroux, Guillestre, Mont-Dauphin, L'Argentière, Briançon.
Trip time Marseille - Gap is 3h15 (Marseille - Manosque 1h20; Manosque - Sisteron 0h50; Sisteron - Gap 1hr). The separate bus between Gap and Briançon is just under 2 hours.
(Schedule link http://www.scal-amv-voyages.com/horaires/circuit7.htm) The routes and schedules are available on the SCAL-Autocars website (link below); select Marseille / Briançon and click on one symbol to view the route map, click on the other symbol for the schedule.
- Web: www.scal-amv-voyages.com/ligne.htm